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Seed treatments: Six things soybean farmers should know

Seed treatments: Six things soybean farmers should know

If conditions or a field’s history do not dictate the use of a fungicide seed treatment, then it may not be the best option for you.

Many farmers may be questioning whether their soybeans need a fungicide seed treatment this planting season. But that depends on many factors – from weather and planting date to drainage and seed costs. If conditions or a field’s history do not dictate the use of a fungicide seed treatment, then it may not be the best option for you.

The soy checkoff funds seed-treatment research, providing U.S. soybean farmers with practical production knowledge and helping protect their yields against seedling diseases.

Applying seed treatments is a rapidly growing trend. In fact, the soybean industry estimates that 60 to 70 percent of the 2014 soybean seed planted had a seed treatment. That’s compared with 30 percent in 2008 and 8 percent in 1996, according to Gary Munkvold, Ph.D., plant pathology and microbiology professor at Iowa State University.

But despite the rise in seed treatment use, it might not be the best option for your operation. Here are six things to consider:

  1. Farmers with poorly drained or no-tilled fields, continuous-soybean or soybean-corn rotations and a history of replanting are the most likely to see the added benefit of using a seed treatment, according to The Ohio State University.
  2. When spring conditions are cool and wet and when planting occurs in late April to early May, seed-treatment fungicides are an effective tool, according to Shawn Conley, soybean extension specialist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  3. The use of a seed treatment is most impactful in fields with a history of post-planting problems, such as minor soil crusting, temporary flooding, soil compaction or poorly drained soils, according to the University of Kentucky. Treatments are also useful when farmers use low seeding rates and when farmers plant seed with a moderate germination rate or when the germination rate is unknown.
  4. Using a fungicide treatment on soybean seeds will increase the probability of achieving a satisfactory stand and will enhance the early-season vigor of established seedlings, according to the Mississippi Soybean Promotion Board.
  5. With the increase in cost of seed, many farmers don’t want to overplant. As a result, according to Iowa State University and University of Wisconsin-Madison, some are decreasing their seeding rate and using the money they save on seed treatments instead.
  6. Fungicide seed treatments showed an average yield increase of 2.5 bushels per acre over an eight year period, according to Kansas State University Research and Extension.

Always remember to separate treated seed and harvested soybeans to protect the integrity of the U.S. soybean supply. This will avoid putting the U.S. soybean industry’s relationship with customers beyond the elevator in jeopardy.

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